Testimonies

God, in His mercy and compassion has answered many of our petitions, but how many of us have come back to thank Him?

Testifying to the wonders that the Father has done for us is one way in which we live out our evangelical mission, for in so doing, we not only give glory to God, but we also encourage each other in our faith journey.

If you would like to share your testimony of the power of God in your life, please drop us an email at media@csctr.net. They may be submitted in the email itself or attached as a word document.

In the meantime, you may wish to read the following testimonies, the majority of which testify to how God became real to our brothers and sisters who participated in the Conversion Experience Retreat and how they have gone on to live lives transformed by the power of His love.

 

Testimony, Gabriel Koh

My name is Gabriel Koh and my parish is the Church of Divine Mercy. I attended CER 51 which ended in March 2016.

I was a cradle Catholic and as a kid, I followed my parents to Mass. I joined the Altar Servers, served Mass almost daily and was very involved in church activities. However, I began mixing with undesirable friends, joined a gang and was told to leave the Church of Our Lady Queen of Peace. I had to go to the Church of the Holy Family to get confirmed but I eventually left the Catholic Church.

At that time, I was overwhelmed with anger. I felt ‘church-going’ people were judging me when only God has the right to judge. I told myself I would make it in life so that people who despised me would eat their words. This, coupled with the fact that I was not born into a well-to-do family, drove me to chase the ‘Singapore Dream’. I aimed to earn a lot of money so I could buy a nice car, stay in a private property, wine and dine and own flashy items to show off. All these things made me happy and I thought they would make those around me happy too. Things were going great; I had a well-paying job, was married, had my first kid, provided for my family and lived a somewhat extravagant life. Still, I felt empty. I thought in order to have true happiness, I needed to own even more material things.

Things took a turn when my second daughter was born prematurely. She was sent straight to the neonatal ICU and scans showed there was an anomaly in her heart. She was born without one of the main arteries and had to go for open-heart surgery. The only thing I could do was pray. I asked God to help my daughter and promised I would return to Church, attend Mass and lean on Him again. Praise the Lord that the surgery went well! However, after God gave my daughter the gift of life, I failed to fulfill my side of the bargain. Yet God never forgot about me.

One day, God drew me to step into a church and all it took was an overwhelming experience of Him in the adoration room to make me return to Church. Later, a friend persuaded me to attend CER. I was hesitant as nothing has ever happened to me during past retreats I had attended. I told him: “OK lah! You ballot for me, if kena then I go, never kena then too bad lor!” I eventually got a place in CER 51 – I guess I was meant to go.

I learnt two important lessons during CER. Firstly, as a Christian, I am called to be a man of faith, not a man of good deeds. I used to think I did not need God. I thought as long as I lived my life according to the ‘good’ of this world, I should be able to go to heaven. I was so wrong! I urge you to attend CER and find out for yourself. The second lesson I learnt was how to forgive – forgive others for the grievous hurt they caused me and forgive myself for the wrongs I have done – for the Lord has already forgiven me. During CER, I experienced God’s forgiveness and I was finally free!

At a healing session during the retreat, I was deep in prayer and in total surrender to the Lord. I truly felt the Lord’s presence leading and stirring emotions within me that I never knew existed. I know now that if I truly look for God and welcome Him into my heart, I will always find Him. This experience made me yearn to know our Lord and find out more about the wonders He has done for us.

In the day, I tried to learn as much as possible during archbishop’s talks and at night, I set aside time for reflection. Questions I always had were slowly answered and the meaning behind some of my life’s experiences were revealed to me throughout the retreat. My conversion experience was very gradual but one thing was certain – my perspective of life has changed drastically after I attended CER.

I spend most of my free time praying or reading the Bible after CER now – something that is completely new to me. I tell all my friends and acquaintances of my encounters with God and let them know my determination to seek God first above everything else. Some remain as friends, while others (who disagree) stay away. Yet I am glad for I have a deeper relationship with God now and my prayer life is stronger than it has ever been. I pray about the decisions I am called to make every day and the path seems clearer each time I pray.

Immediately after CER, I felt so rejuvenated that I entertained the thought of becoming a priest and serving God full-time! Reality set in after some time; after all, I still had responsibilities as a husband and father. When I went back to reality, there was no one constantly reminding me of God’s mercy and how much God loves me (unlike during the retreat). It did not help that my peers are driven by earthly possessions. My zeal to serve the Lord began to wane and fade.

Fortunately for me, I have three channels through which the Lord conveys subtle messages to me. The first channel is the CSC Intercession Ministry which I had joined as a member on discernment. As we pray for others during the intercessory sessions, at the same time I am blessed as these intercessions remind me of the blessings I receive from God every single day. I am also in a discipleship group (similar to a Christian cell group) where my fellow brothers and I share our daily struggles and joys openly as disciples of God. We provide spiritual motivation for each other. Lastly, I am thankful for my CER group – the people whom I have come to know as friends. We still keep in touch and journey together spiritually, helping and praying for each other.

During times when I feel the Lord does not hear me, this conviction would strike me: God has already given me the MOST PRECIOUS gift of all — the gift of life. Not only did He give His own life for me, He gave me back my daughter’s life! It is because of this conviction that I can confidently proclaim that OUR GOOD LORD LIVES! He is the reason I find renewed strength to carry on believing and having faith.

I am very grateful to God for letting me walk this path, even though my life journey has been tough and there were times when I was down and out. Yet God was with me through it all, showering me with His unconditional and unwavering love. These experiences are reasons for me to share the greatness of our Lord with others. Praise be to God! May God bless you, my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Gabriel Koh
CER 51

Testimony, Kevin Siew

My name is Kevin Siew and I attended CER 51 in March 2016.  I come from the Parish of St Francis Xavier in Serangoon and serve in the Catechetical Ministry, St Jerome Library and Mustard Seed Community.  I also served in the Siloam Charismatic Prayer Community at St Vincent De Paul Church.

A short background about me: I was born half deaf.  I am able to hear with my left ear only.  In 1986, my hearing in my left ear deteriorated so I wear a hearing aid.  I have problems talking to people.  I got annoyed with my family, relatives, church friends and office colleagues when I do not understand them.  I was so upset with being deaf and my disability made me feel unloved.  Once, I wanted to end my life but my mother stopped me; she said that I am a beloved child of God.  I attended the Life in Spirit Seminar in 2015 at St Vincent De Paul Church.  I felt receiving the gift of tongues but I was struggling at work and trying to be patient with my father.

Some of my friends suggested that I should attend CER but I was very reluctant.  On Jan 16 2016, I asked my friend to go to CSC to ballot on my behalf.  At 10am, my friend messaged me that I got in CER 51; there were exactly 120 people and it was a walkover!  When I received the massage, I was surprised and wondered what God had in store for me.

The day for CER 51 came.  Through the talks, I discovered how much God the Father loves me.  I reflected how blessed I was able to attend the retreat.  I am deeply moved that I am a loving child of God.  As we continued with the retreat, I came to understand why I am the way I am.  I am aware of my sins: anger and greed.  I know Jesus loves me and His death on the cross reminds me of His love for me.  And I made a good confession.

During the healing and praying over session, I prayed to the Lord and asked Him to help me be patient and to stop being angry.  I prayed for good hearing in my left ear.  When His Grace was holding the monstrance and walking toward me, suddenly my mouth moved and I was babbling!  My whole body felt warm when His Grace placed his hand on me.  I kept babbling and realised that I received the gift of tongues!  I felt the hearing in my left ear was even clearer than before!!

After the praying over session, I was at peace with myself and felt happy that the Lord has healed me!  I was able to hear well and gave thanks to God.  Despite the fact that I did not receive a miraculous healing for my right ear, I was emotionally and spiritually healed to be patient and peace loving. CER has affirmed God’s love and care for me.

I recalled what His Grace said: Do not judge on others. You will be rewarded a place in heaven if you help others, pray for them and say nice things to them in good times and bad.  After CER, I am not angry with my boss and family.  I am not afraid of people who dared to bully me.  I am also empowered to reach out to others as a wounded healer, knowing that my deepest anger and pain have been released.

“Encountering God, Healing Hearts, Empowering Lives”: CER helped me to renew my faith in Jesus, knowing that I should trust in Him because He loves me. Now I truly feel and appreciate these words because I have encountered God, He has healed my heart and I am empowered to bring His message to all those I meet. God is AWESOME. Praise The Lord!

Kevin Siew
CER 51

Testimony, Judy Bernadette

My name is Judy Bernadette and I attended CER45 in March 2015. I come from the Parish of Our Lady Star of The Sea in Yishun and serve in the Catechetical ministry.

A short background of me. I have been married for 25 years. The first 5 years of my marriage was tough, my husband and I tried very hard to have a baby. When my baby finally arrived after almost 5 years, we discovered he had a rare congenital heart disease. The baby passed away at 17 months. My husband and I, though deeply grieved, kept our faith and believed God had His plans. 2 months down the road, God blessed us with another son and 7 years later, a beautiful daughter!

I have always been in and out of hospitals for operations. At 21 years old, I went for a disc-prolapse operation. Thereafter, I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis and had several surgeries on both knees. In July 2014, the partial knee replacement on my right knee was unsuccessful and I was told that the implant might have loosened. The doctor suggested that I go for an operation to “check it out”. I left the clinic calm but the moment I stepped onto the road, my tears could not stop. How could this be? I was fearful of what could happen.

The following day, I went to CSC for CER balloting. My boss had attended CER44 and had encouraged me to go. There were 300 people balloting for 120 slots and to my surprise, I got in! I sat there stunned and shivering and wondered what God had in store for me. My boss told me subsequently that his friends were balloting for the third time and did not get in, whereas I got in at the first round! God definitely had something up His sleeve for me.

On 17 Feb 2015, I went for a second opinion on my knee; I did a blood test and x-ray to determine if there was an infection. This time I was calm, at peace and just surrendered to God, even though an infection meant a full knee replacement and other forms of treatment.

On 24 Feb 2015, I received the x-ray and blood test results. Praise God, it was not an infection but the replacement was in bad shape. The implant had shifted and I had to undergo a total knee replacement. The doctor referred me to a senior orthopedic surgeon; his diagnosis was the same. I decided to go for the operation after CER and Holy Week. It was a very trying period for the family but we were pretty sure that God would never fail us and would continue to strengthen us.

The day for CER came. Through the talks, I discovered how much God the Father loves me. I reflected how blessed I was to be able to attend the retreat and was deeply convinced that He cares for me. As we continued with the retreat, I came to understand why I am the way I am. My boss had often told me that I was emotional, defensive and sensitive. I had shared a few of my past experiences with him, and whenever he told me that he knew what I had gone through and the heavy burdens I was carrying, my tears would flow. At CER, Archbishop William explained how our past experiences affect us. I began to see that the painful memories of my childhood still haunted me.

When I was between 10 and 13 years old, my uncle molested me on several occasions. On a separate occasion on my way home from school, I was molested by a stranger in the lift. I was 11 years old then. These frightening experiences had made me into a fearful person. At CER, I also became aware of how I would cringe each time a colleague or a man touched me, even if it was just a friendly pat. Reliving those memories were frightening and hurtful. Yet I decided it was time I confessed and sought God’s healing from those painful memories.

Assured of Jesus’ love for me, I made a good confession. That night, when we had our praying-over session, I surrendered to the Lord and asked him to help me forgive those who had hurt me. I recalled Archbishop saying “hurting people hurt people”. I forgave the two men and also asked the Lord to heal them where they were hurting.

I also prayed for God to heal me physically so I would not have to go through the knee operation. After the praying-over session, I was surprised I did not feel any pain in my knee though I had been standing for very long. I continued to praise God and knew that even if I had not received a miraculous physical healing, I was already emotionally and spiritually healed. As mentioned by a friend, the Lord had begun healing me even before CER. CER further affirmed God’s love and care for me.

I recalled what Archbishop said – if we can talk about our past experiences and share them to help others, then we are healed. AMEN! Indeed, I had seen my childhood nightmares, the pain of losing my firstborn and the pain of the 10 operations I had gone through as experiences I could share with people going through the same situations. My own painful experiences have allowed me to identify with their feelings and encourage them. After CER, I am even more convinced that my crosses were not borne in vain. I am also empowered to reach out to others as a wounded healer, knowing that my deepest hurts and pain have been released.

The most significant message that I received through CER is the Love of the Father. It empowered me to go through my recent total knee replacement on 9 April 2015 with no fear, no sadness and no self-pity, knowing that God the Father is watching over me, protecting me and loving me. For the first time, I had the shortest stay in the hospital compared to all the other knee operations that I had previously, even though this was the most major operation of all. I was even able to inspire some of the nurses who attended to me, as they could see the peace and joy that flowed from me. This is definitely the grace of God and the power of prayers.

In one word, I describe CER as “Liberating”. I have been liberated and set free. When I first came to CSC and saw the banner “Encountering God, Healing Hearts, Empowering Lives”, it did not make much impact on me. Now I truly feel and appreciate these words because I have encountered God, He has healed my heart and I am empowered to bring His message to all those I meet. God is AWESOME. Praise The Lord!

Judy Bernadette
CER45

Testimony, Joachim Cheong 

I am Joachim Cheong from the Parish of Saint Francis Xavier in Serangoon Gardens. I attended CER 44 in Jan 2015 and I want to share my deep and personal encounter of God’s love.

I am a cradle Catholic.  My parents and family are devout Catholics and brought me up well. However, from the time I was independent, I chose the ways of the world and became worse than a Sunday Catholic.  I grew up in the sixties in Australia.  The hippie culture was in full swing, and swing I did.  I went to USA for training and lived quite wildly with wine, women and song. Religion and decency were just words to me.  I was not evil but then again, adultery held no weight with me.

I am now civilly married to my third wife.  Before I married my third wife, my faith was of no consequence to me.  However, after marrying my wife Sarah, I began to see how she suffered as she was not able to receive the Holy Eucharist and partake in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  I began to ponder what I had done.  I realized that I had lost the privilege to be in communion with the Lord and the ability to seek reconciliation with Him.  It was devastating. I took it very lightly at first but it became a heavy burden and I was very sad.  I felt like an outcast, not because I was rejected by God and His Church, but because I have rejected Him and His Church and I did not know how to return to the Lord.

My CER experience is best explained with this analogy:

I was like a child living in a house in the jungle with my parents.  They told me not to wander off into the jungle alone, but the attractions of the jungle were too much of a temptation for me.  Ignoring them, I went off to explore.  I found wonderful pleasurable things and all too soon found myself lost.  I was enjoying myself and I wanted for nothing yet something was missing.  I became hungry, frightened and missed my parents.  I looked for my home but could not find it. I looked and looked for forty years (20 years old till 60 years old) to no avail.  It was a vicious circle.  I could not receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation due to my circumstances.  As a result, I could not receive the Holy Eucharist.  Inside me was this deep guilt – a guilt I could not let go.  I knew that I rejected Him so how could I go back to Him?  I continued attending Masses but I felt empty and unfulfilled.  That was why if I could skip Mass, I would do so.  Thanks to my wife and family, this did not happen very often.

During the CER I attended, I learned that Our Lord took our every sin upon Himself literally.  The rejection by Peter, his closest apostle.  The disciples who abandoned him when he was arrested.  All the other sins of the people: the Calumny, Envy, Anger, Sloth, Greed and Cruelty that nailed him to the cross.  Before He died, He asked God the Father to “forgive them for they do not know what they do”.  He died and arose, God-man.  What did He do to these people?  Did he vent His just anger on them?  No, He said: “Peace be with you,” and forgave them even though they did not confess their sins.  He simply loved them and forgave them.  His forgiveness traverses time and space.  What a beautiful discovery I made at CER – He forgives you and He forgives me.  In my jungle, in desperation, I shouted for my Father as I prepared for my confession in front of the Holy Eucharist in the Adoration Chapel … and He came running, picked me up, hugged me and carried me home.  I felt such overwhelming love that I cannot describe it.   It is true, no matter what you and I have done, our merciful Lord has already forgiven us.  There is nothing we need to do to earn His forgiveness and love.  He has already forgiven us and loves us from His cross.  We just have to trust Him, walk or run to Him and open up our contrite hearts to His Love.  Let Him come in – He will pick us up, hug us and carry us home with Him.

Post CER, my life has changed.  I am more aware of Our Lord and Our Blessed Mother and I am in conversation with them throughout the day.  I see the beauty of the Mass and attend Mass every day.  I have completed the 33 Days to Morning Glory consecration to the Immaculate Conception.  My family can see the change in me in attending daily Mass, whereas previously I would skip Sunday Mass if I could.  Now I practically run to attend Mass in the morning.  I also find great comfort in going to the Adoration Room to spend time with our Lord.  I normally do this before Mass in the morning.  This, I find is paramount, if I want to walk closely with our Lord.  If I stop going to daily Mass, it will be the end of me.  Anyway, I miss Him too much to not be with Him every day in His supreme sacrifice.

Right now, I feel as if I have just been born and need to grow.  Resting and hiding in the Lord, I suppose.  There is so much to learn.  I have just completed the second stage of the Hearts on Fire programme called consoling the Heart of Jesus.  I’m reading the life of St Paul as well as the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

In conclusion, I praise and thank the Good Shepherd for finding this lost sheep.  For protecting me during the times I was in mortal danger, physically and spiritually, even when I was not walking with Him.  The numerous times He has been merciful to this undeserving child, softening the impact of painful situations.  I thank and praise Him for His merciful love.

Joachim Cheong
CER 44